This patient support community is for discussions relating to the challenges of parenting children (age 6-12), including physical development, handling school & classes, emotional development, cognitive development, and games and activities.
X is turning 11 years old in a month. She has recently told her dad, who does not live with the mother, that she sleeps with her mom every night. Although she realizes that no other friends of hers do that, her mom has reassured her that it is normal for her to sleep with her. The child has a room of her own in both household (mom and dad).
Lately, when she goes to her dad for the week (one week with Dad, one week with mom), she is afraid to sleep in her own room, in her bed, and cries at night and calls her mom on the phone for reassurance.
My question is: Is it good for the emotional development of a child who is 11 years old to sleep with her mom every single night? Will it affect her development and in which way? Is this a behavior that should be accepted? How should one deal with this?
"Is it good for the emotional development of a child who is 11 years old to sleep with her mom every single night? " - No.
"Will it affect her development and in which way?" Any negative effects probably will not be permanent, but it does seem clear that it has already impacted her ability to soothe herself in sleep situations outside the home.
" Is this a behavior that should be accepted?" Requiring an 11 year old child to sleep in her own bedroom while in your own household is reasonable. For good or ill, however, this is largely out of your hands when she is with her mother.
" How should one deal with this? " - Encourage her to sleep on her own when NOT in her mother's household. Explain (gently) that it is very unusual for a child her age to sleep with mother, and that you expect her to behave in an age appropriate manner when in your household (i.e., sleep in own bedroom).
My guess is that sleeping in the same bed with mom initially had much more to do with mom's lonliness and insecurity than the child's. At this point, however, the insecurity has been taken on by the child, as well.
I think it is great for her emotional development. Perhaps this is what her and her mom find secure, comforting , soothing right now during these difficult times. How nice her mother accomadates her daughter's needs instead of letting society 'rules' to dictate her home. I think she is old enuf to know that she sleeps w/ her mom at mom's house and her own room at dad's. Ask what may help comfort her at night? You stopping in for a while ( or her dad?) , a stuffed animal? music?
Unlike Strictly Top Secret, I would definitely NOT let her feel like her need right now is weird or unwarranted (many cultures of the world find it absurd to Not have your children right next to you). Remember she is 11, having to deal w/ split parents, going home to home, seeing her parents w/ new partners. She dare not feel ashamed of it on top of things. Encourage and praise her for sleeping alone - "Wow, you had such a good night last night- I'm so happy your getting good at falling asleep on your own"...and leave it at that.
Good luck and be patient w/ her..
An 11 year old should not, in a normal household, want to sleep with a parent. This is an age form developing self relinence and desire for independence. I would question why the mother is not wanting to make the separation. The mother may need the daughter because she is afraid to establish a new relationship with a man. I would want my child to have her own space at night and if on occasion she wanted to sleep with me that is normal. Children need to develope a sense of security within themselves and letting the parent inflleunce beyond the need could be hampering necessary self developement.
As parents we have a responsibility to help our children learn how to cope when we are not available.To raise a child that is overly dependent on the parent due to a parents selfish need, is harmful. Codependence is not a coping skill
I have slept with all three of my children until they are five...They do not have nightmares, do not suck their thumbs, sleep beautifully through the night, do not bed wet,do not have attachments to cuddly items to soothe them.. two are off to Ivy League colleges, travel independlently and thrive on new experiences... I don't believe it hurt them one bit.... and when I visited my husband... he was well rested and thought he had great kids... so far.... oldest male 26,son 20 and daughter 15... no one has ever complained!!!! and they didn't snore or take up a lot of room in the bed so mom was well rested and HAPPY!!!
I think motivating them with rewards setting a goal to work for something would be good. Has she always slept with the Mom or is this new since the seperation and all of the parents??? I think starting off with small goals like picking a night to sleep alone and praising them is good and adding to that. I WOULDN'T be stressed about it or make a big deal out of it. My attitude has always been and I think should be for everyone and that is...."I have to live with the choices that I make and what works for me and is right for my family isn't necessarily going to work for someone else". Some cultures do have a "family bed" and so I think some kids prefer to be with the parents during the night for many reasons. Especially if they don't have enough together time during the day that kids make up for it during the night. Just try different things and don't get frustrated there are worse things parents have to deal with, so this isn't a big deal compared to other issue's.
Maybe.... have the daughter have a friend sleep over and see if that helps to encourage her to sleep in her own room. Is there a pet she's been wanting that she can get if she sleeps in her room a certain period of time. Maybe a goal of "hey, we can re-decorate your room however you want if you sleep in your room 6 months". There's all kinds of things you can try to motivate them to stay in their room.
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